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BMJ News Examines Ongoing Investigation Of WHO’s Handling Of H1N1

BMJ News reports on the ongoing external investigation of the WHO’s handling of the 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic, following recent statements to the WHO’s executive board meeting by review committee chairman, Harvey Fineberg. Despite initial expectations that the external review committee would produce a draft of its findings in January, Fineberg “said the panel was planning a meeting on 28-30 March, and it would distribute in advance to all WHO member nations copies of a draft summary of its principal findings, conclusions, and recommendations, for comments and reactions, before it finalises the report.”

According to BMJ News, Fineberg “told members of WHO’s governing board that the report will deal with all the criticisms levelled at the agency, such as how it defined a pandemic, and identify lessons for strengthening preparedness and scope for a future response to a pandemic. He said the report will reflect all views, even if those are conflicting.” The report hopes to draw lessons from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic that clarify the role of the WHO should play in future pandemics, as well as the roles of individual countries and pharmaceutical companies, according to the news service.

The H1N1 pandemic “highlights weaknesses in health services and inequities in access to commodities,” an issue “of continuing concern,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said, according to the news service. The article also references Chan’s recent comments about the public’s skepticism over vaccines (Zarocostas, 1/20).

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